Ben stabbed by a mangrove whipray

Ben Godsall, visiting PhD student to my lab (Systematics & Ecology Lab, NUS) gets stabbed by a mangrove whipray while helping to catch tree-climbing crabs in the Sungei Buloh mangrove. With Paul, we three were accompanying Joanne (the crab team) on her hunt to catch just a couple of adult female Episesarma versicolor crabs for the larval project.

Since there were enough of them mucking about in the water, I took photos from the boardwalk. At this point, I was training the camera on Ben from the boardwalk for what film folk call the “hero shot”, so that he could use it to good measure back home.

So it was opportune that at that point, he got stabbed – oh well, you know what I mean! His reaction was so similar to mine from way back in 2005/6 that I realised it had to be the same culprit. His observations confirmed it and the video is priceless. He should be okay but there will be quit a bit of a pain that will linger. At least he knows what it is.

Besides Ben’s reasonably dignified response, watch the video closely and you’ll see the ray flapping about!

This is the culprit species, the Mangrove whipray (Himantura walga). This photo below was taken at Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve in January. For a good look at the animal and its spines, you should look at some of the lovely photos on Ria’s WildSingapore.


Ben’s injury – plenty of hurt for such a small spot!
I wonder if he will discover it is a double puncture later, like I did.

Ben was injured in the same part of his foot as I was in 2006 (or 2005) – on the inside, forward of the ankle. It turns out that Luan Keng escaped a similar fate last month (see Kok Sheng’s blog post). The spine was embeded close to where Ben and I received our injuries, giving you an idea of the typical scenario when a roving foot encounters a whipray which backs into it. You can imagine some unfortunate predator getting the worst of this business end!

So Alvin proposed zoology purple hearts be awarded to Ben, Chay Hoon, Ria and myself. But I think Luan Keng will be the happiest!

3 thoughts on “Ben stabbed by a mangrove whipray

  1. All better. The burning subsided after about 4 hours, a cup of coffee and a packet of crisps. Future victims should take note of the cure.

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